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McBurney v. Young

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: April 29, 2013
Case #: 12-17
Alito, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. Thomas, J., filed a concurring opinion.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-17_d1o2.pdf

Constitutional Law: Virginia's Freedom of Information Act does not violate the Privileges and Immunity Clause or the dormant Commerce Clause by granting Virginia citizens access to public records, but grants no such right to non-Virginians.

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) states that all public records are open to inspection and copying by any citizens of the Commonwealth, but does not grant such rights to non-Virginians. Petitioners, non-Virginians, unsuccessfully sought information under the FOIA. Petitioners filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 seeking declaratory and injunctive relief for violations of the Privileges and Immunities Clause and the dormant Commerce Clause. The District Court granted Virginia's motion for summary judgment, and the Fourth Circuit affirmed. Petitioners appealed to the Supreme Court, which granted certiorari.

The Supreme Court affirmed and held the FOIA did not violate the Privileges and Immunities Clause, which only protects "fundamental" privileges and immunities. The state of Virginia gave petitioners most of the information they sought, and the Commonwealth's refusal to furnish the additional information did not abridge any constitutionally protected privilege or immunity. Additionally, the Court held that the dormant Commerce Clause does not apply as the FOIA does not interfere with interstate commerce through prohibition or burdensome regulations.